Dawn and her husband, Kris, had never talked about becoming foster parents. But one day at church ended up changing their lives.
A speaker presented to their congregation about the need for foster parents. In the past, foster care had tugged at Dawn’s heartstrings, but she never brought it up to her husband or their two children, AJ and Ally.
“We left church that Sunday and I looked at my husband in the car and said, ‘You’re going to think I’m crazy,’ and he responded, ‘We should do foster care,’” she says. “It was something we felt called to do. We prayed about it and talked to our children and other people about it and six months after, we still felt led to do it.”
The family became licensed to provide foster care and adopt four years ago. Their main goal is to provide temporary foster care for Iowa kids, but they decided to become dual licensed to adopt, just in case. Over the years, they have provided care for children in need of a longer-term place to stay. They have fostered eight children, and most have stayed in their home for more than a year. Their family is able to welcome multiple children into their home, so they have fostered sibling groups throughout their time as foster parents.
Dawn’s favorite memory of providing foster care came from the first child her family welcomed.
“I had a Fitbit so every day when I’d get home, he would ask how many steps I had. He wanted to beat me. So we got him a little kid version and every day, he was determined to get more steps than me and would walk around in circles in the kitchen if he had to,” Dawn recalls. “I still think of him when I see a Fitbit.”
Dawn says that as a foster parent, she has been surprised by how much her family has learned from the children in their care. When they first started their journey, Dawn remembers feeling overwhelmed and worrying that she wasn’t going to be good enough as a foster parent. But that shouldn’t let someone stop them from providing foster care, she says. Iowa has a need for foster parents and even if a family can’t commit to long-term foster care, getting licensed to provide just a few days of respite care can be life-changing for families.
“You can be such a support to other people. Like anything, you’re always going to find excuses not to do it. Don’t feel like you have to know how to do it or be the right person to do it. It’s something you learn as you go,” Dawn says. “When we first started, I thought I’m not equipped for this. I believe that God does not call the equipped — He equips the called.”